Family History: Overview of writing the personal history

10-16-2014 4-04-07 PMBy Barry J. Ewell

Get a “second opinion” or several other opinions after you’ve written part of the story—from people you interviewed to be sure you understood their meaning, from people who don’t know any-thing about your family to see if they understand, and from people who know something about writing to see what they think of your work.
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Family History: Try the mapping technique if you need more help with the outline or story

Family History: Try the mapping technique if you need more help with the outline or storyBy Barry J. Ewell

Whenever I need a little bit—or a lot—of extra help developing ideas that I am going to write about, I use what is called “mapping.” Mapping refers to organizing your ideas visually by connecting one thought with another. Eventually, mapping will lead you to a list of ideas and a sequence to use them in. Continue reading

Family History: Revising the first draft

Family History: Revising the first draftBy Barry J. Ewell

Your first draft is done—congratulations! That’s a good beginning. Now it’s time to revise and edit. The difference between a mediocre personal history and a great personal history often comes in the revising and editing stage. I can’t stress this phase of writing enough! I have had the sad experience of writing and printing a newsletter, brochure, or flyer where thorough editing was not done, and an error (such as a misspelling) slipped by. No matter Continue reading

Family History: Personal history structure

10-16-2014 1-48-48 PMBy Barry J. Ewell

Your first draft was an exercise of getting your thoughts on paper. One of the first tasks you will address when reviewing your writing is to look closely at the body of the personal history and decide if the reader will be able to see and follow the flow. A good personal history is not simply a collection of good paragraphs, it doesn’t start and stop at random—it moves in one direction. Good structure comes about through restructuring Continue reading

Family History: Support your claims

Family History: Support your claimsBy Barry J. Ewell

When you write personal histories, most individuals will take your word on what you write concerning experiences and stories or about instances that are “common knowledge.” If your personal history is going to be interesting, you should tell the reader something they don’t already know. When you write about other people, you will need backup—beyond your own word—to help develop and support what is being said. This type of backup would include newspaper articles, photos, certificates, letters, and history books. Evidence is Continue reading

Family History: Including artifacts, photos, and images

 Family History: Including artifacts, photos, and imagesBy Barry J. Ewell

As you write, edit, and prepare your personal history for publication, you will continually be referring to or wanting to include images in your writing. The following is an overview of the types of artifacts, photos, and images you will want to consider in helping to write and tell the personal history.

Adding photos and scanned images to your personal history
As part of the process of preparing your writing for publication and distribution, adding Continue reading

Family History: Using maps, documents, letters, and other artifacts in your personal history

Family History: Using maps, documents, letters, and other artifacts in your personal historyBy Barry J. Ewell

In addition to photographs, you can effectively use a wide variety of artifacts to help expand and bring meaning to your writings. For example, you can do the following in your personal history:

  • Use maps to show current boundaries for counties, states, or other areas and the boundaries that existed at the time your family lived there. Use a map to show the migration path of your ancestors. Use different styles of lines and a legend to show historic and current boundaries and routes of migration. When using photocopies ofactual historic family documents, also include a typed transcription. Continue reading